NEW DELHI, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Two Indian cities joined New Delhi to be among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities on Monday, with smoke heavy in the air a day after revelry broke loose with fireworks for Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights.
The capital, New Delhi, took the top spot, as it often does. It had an air quality index (AQI) figure of 407, putting it in the “hazardous” category, according to Swiss group IQAir.
The financial capital of Mumbai came sixth with an AQI of 157, while Kolkata in the east came seventh with an AQI of 154.
An AQI level of 400-500 affects healthy people and is dangerous for those with existing illnesses, while a level of 150-200 causes discomfort for people with asthma, lung and heart problems. Levels of 0-50 are considered good.
A thick layer of smog had started circulating in New Delhi from Sunday night, sending its AQI to an alarming 680 a little after midnight.
Every year the authorities ban fireworks in the capital, but these bans rarely seem to be enforced.
Lawmaker Saket Gokhale posted a letter on X, formerly known as Twitter, in which he had asked the local police for details of the number of cases of the use of fireworks and the action taken against the perpetrators.
A Delhi Police spokesman did not return multiple calls from Reuters seeking comment.
Air quality in northern India deteriorates every year ahead of winter, when cold air traps pollutants from vehicles, industry, construction dust and the burning of agricultural waste.
New Delhi authorities postponed an earlier decision to restrict the use of vehicles after a brief period of rain on Friday brought a respite from a week of toxic air.
The local government said it plans to maintain its ban on construction activities and to keep schools closed to protect people from the pollution.
Reporting by Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Miral Fahmy
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